At last count, there were 20,000-something trees of all shapes and sizes scattered throughout the 6,370-acre Urbana campus.
This is a story about one of them.
“There is a tree on the south end of the ARC parking lot, before the drive into Memorial Stadium, nicknamed the ‘Baritone Tree,’” says Visit Champaign County marketing director Terri Reifsteck (BS '00, marketing).
“During my college years, I was a baritone player in the Marching Illini. At the time, our practices were held in what was then a grassy lot to the west of the ARC.
“Our section of 20-plus baritones, from undergrads to grad students, met under that tree every day during the fall semester. We’d commiserate on classes, complain about the heat, hope for a win so maybe we could get to a bowl game, and take breaks underneath that tree and cool off during practice.
“Each year, we got to design a section T-shirt that we’d wear under our uniforms, and my senior year, it was a phenomenal drawing of the Baritone Tree. The friends made in that spot have been lifelong, with many friendships and even marriages as a result.
“The tree still stands, and I smile every time I pass underneath it.”